It is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that can cause serious health problems if left untreated. The infection develops in stages, and each stage can have different signs and symptoms.

Methods of transmission:

  • Syphilis can be contracted by direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal or oral sex.
  • Syphilis can be transmitted from a mother infected with syphilis to the unborn fetus.

Syphilis cannot be contracted through:

  • Toilet chairs
  • Door handles
  • Swimming pool
  • Hot tubs
  • Bathtubs
  • Sharing clothes or eating utensils

Pregnancy and syphilis:
When infected with syphilis during pregnancy, the infection can be transmitted to the fetus, and it can also cause a low birth weight for the baby, with an increase in the possibility that the baby will be born too early or be born dead. To protect the baby, a syphilis test should be performed at least once during pregnancy, and treatment should be obtained. Immediately if the test result is positive.
At birth, a child infected with syphilis may not show signs or symptoms of the disease. However, if the child does not receive treatment immediately, he may develop serious health problems (such as: cataracts, deafness, or seizures) or death.

There are four stages of syphilis (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary) and each stage has different signs and symptoms.

Primary stage:
During this stage, a single ulcer or multiple ulcers may be observed, appearing in the place where the infection entered the body, and these sores usually appear in or around:

  • Penis.
  • Vagina.
  • Anus.
  • Rectum.
  • Lips or in the mouth.

The sores are usually (but not always) hard, round, and painless. The ulcer often lasts 3 to 6 weeks and heals. Regardless of whether or not treatment is received, the patient still has to receive treatment, to prevent transmission of the disease to the secondary stage.

Secondary stage:
A rash and/or sores may be observed in the mouth, vagina, or anus. This stage usually begins with a rash on one or more areas of the body. The rash can appear when the initial ulcer has healed or several weeks after the ulcer has healed. The rash may be on the palms of the hands and/or bottoms of the feet. It is rough to the touch and red (reddish-brown). The rash usually does not itch. Sometimes other symptoms may include:

  • High body temperature
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sore throat
  • Patchy hair loss
  • Headache
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue (feeling very tired).

Symptoms disappear from this stage whether you receive treatment or not, but without proper treatment the infection will move to the latent and possibly tertiary stages of syphilis.

Latent (inactive) stage:
It is a period when there are no visible signs or symptoms. Without treatment, syphilis infection can persist in the body for years. Syphilis cannot be transmitted to anyone else during the latent stage. If left untreated, the infection may proceed to the late stage.

Tertiary stage (late stage):
Most people with untreated syphilis do not develop this stage. However, when infected with the tertiary stage, it can affect many different organ systems (such as: the heart, blood vessels, brain, and nervous system). This stage is a very serious condition and may occur after 10-30 years from the start of the infection, where the internal organs are damaged and may lead to death.

Syphilis can be treated with appropriate antibiotics prescribed by a doctor; however, treatment may not remove any damage that the infection can cause.

Re-infection of syphilis after treatment:
Having syphilis once does not prevent re-infection, even after successful treatment, as re-infection may occur.

The only way to completely avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal or oral sex, but the chances of contracting syphilis can be reduced by:

  • To be in a long-term relationship (marriage) with a partner who has been tested and does not suffer from syphilis.
  • Using condoms is the best way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases when having sex. Condoms prevent the spread of syphilis by preventing contact with the sore, but not in areas not covered by a condom.
  • Ensure that you and your partner are screened for STDs.
  • Not having sex when the partner's health is unknown, to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Avoid increasing the number of your sexual partners; The risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases increases with multiple partners.
  • Avoid alcohol or drug use; the possibility of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.

The steps work best when used together, and no single step can protect against every type of STD.

Breastfeeding and syphilis:
A woman with syphilis can breastfeed a child, but when no infection is in one or both breasts, when there is any sore from syphilis in one or both breasts:

  • Breastfeeding can continue as long as the baby or the pumping equipment does not touch the sore.
  • Expressing milk from the breast when there are sores until the sores heal. Pumping helps maintain milk supply and prevents the breasts from becoming overly full and sore.
  • Milk can be stored to give it to the baby in a bottle to feed it again, but if the parts of the breast pump come into contact with the ulcer during pumping, the milk must be discarded.

Instructions for people with syphilis:

  • Do not have sex until the syphilis sore has completely disappeared.
  • Visit the doctor as soon as possible; To treat the disease, knowing that it will not repair any permanent damage done to your internal organs.
  • Taking medications and continuing them even if symptoms disappear, and when symptoms persist after treatment, you should consult a doctor.
  • Inform the sexual partner of the infection for examination and treatment. If the examination and treatment are not carried out, syphilis may occur again.
  • After completing treatment for syphilis, re-examination should be done after 6 months and 12 months.

Last Update : 23 August 2023 09:44 AM
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